Singapore, Jul 28: Indian-origin politician Pritam Singh was on Tuesday designated as the Leader of the Opposition in Singapore, the first such appointment in the history of the city-state.
The 43-year old Singh’s Workers’ Party won 10 parliamentary seats out of the 93 contested in the July 10 general elections held, making it the biggest opposition presence in Singapore’s Parliament. Singh is the Secretary-General of Workers’ Party.
Singapore’s legislatures have never had formally designated Leaders of the Opposition, and such a position is not provided for in the Constitution or the Standing Orders of Parliament,” the parliamentary offices said in its statement on Tuesday.
Singapore’s legislatures have never had formal Leaders of the Opposition, not even in the 1950s and early 1960s when there were substantial numbers of opposition legislative assemblymen, the Channel News Asia quoted the statement as saying.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s ruling People’s Action Party won 83 seats in the general elections and his government was sworn in on Monday. Singh will take on more duties and be accorded additional privileges in his role as the Leader of the Opposition, authorities said on Tuesday in a statement, laying out the details of the new post.
“Similar to other Westminster parliamentary systems, Singh will lead the Opposition in presenting alternative views in parliamentary debates on policies, bills and motions,” said the Office of the Speaker of Parliament and Office of the Leader of the House in a joint statement.
He will also lead and organise the scrutiny of the government’s positions and actions in Parliament, and be consulted on the appointment of opposition members to Select Committees, such as the Public Accounts Committee.
Singh, who is also a lawyer, will receive an annual package of 385,000 Singapore dollars (USD 2,79,025.98) as allowances for his new role. Prime Minister Lee said on July 11 that Singh will be designated the Leader of the Opposition.
After his swearing-in on Monday, Lee said that the election results have shown a strong desire among Singaporeans for a greater diversity of views in politics and that the trend is here to stay. We have to give expression to it and evolve our political system to accommodate it while maintaining our cohesion and sense of national purpose, said Lee.
As with any new political appointment, the role of the LO (Leader of the Opposition) will evolve as our political system develops,” the statement from Parliament said. “We look forward to working with the LO to create a robust but stable political system serving the interests of Singapore and Singaporeans, it said.
The statement added that these duties and privileges have been conveyed to Singh, and the Leader of the House will make a statement in Parliament to formally set out these terms.
Singapore’s 14th Parliament will have its first sitting on August 24.